UNK Wrestling: #7 Lopers Fall to #1 UCO, 20-13

University of Nebraska Kearney Lopers logo.

Kearney, Neb. – The top-ranked and defending national champion Central Oklahoma Bronchos finished strong and won a video review to rally past seventh-ranked Nebraska-Kearney, 20-13, Friday night at the Health & Sports Center.

The Bronchos (14-0, 4-0) can wrap up their fourth straight MIAA title with a win tomorrow at Fort Hays State. The Lopers (18-4, 4-1) now look forward to the NCAA Region VI meet March 2 in Pueblo, Colo.

UNK got off to a 10-0 lead as redshirt freshman Zach Ourada (Omaha Skutt), redshirt sophomore Drew Arnold (Blue Springs) and redshirt senior Nick James (Kearney) each picked up victories. However, only redshirt senior Billy Higgins (Omaha Skutt), at 184-pounds, would win after that as a young Lopers squad lost out to a veteran 'Chos outfit.

"We knew there was going to be a lot of competitive matches that were going to be decided by maybe a takedown," said UNK head coach Dalton Jensen. "Duals never go the way they are supposed but this one probably didn't go too far off script."

Ourada, ranked sixth at 125-pounds, used a takedown with 12 seconds left in the first period to beat sophomore Garrett Steidley, 5-2, while Arnold majored junior Peter Rolle, 14-4, in the next match. The Beatrice High graduate trailed 3-2 entering the third but racked up 12 points, via a takedown and eight near fall points, to continue the Loper momentum. Next, the seventh-ranked James recorded a takedown with 20 seconds remaining in the second to open a 4-0 lead against fourth-ranked Dylan Lucas. On "Senior Night", he hung on for a 5-2 win.

"I just wanted to make sure we competed hard in every match, even if we came away with some losses. That's a good team over there and deserving of their number ranking," said Jensen. "So, to be able to compete hard with those guys, even though it's a loss on the scoreboard, is a good confidence boost going into regionals."

At 165-pounds, redshirt sophomore Kaden Hart (St. Peters, Mo.) was poised for a 4-2 upset win over ninth-ranked Hunter Jump. However, Jumper literally recorded a takedown at the buzzer with a video review confirming the call.

"Kaden won 6:58 of that match but two seconds got away," said Jensen. "Sometimes a hard lesson to learn is a good lesson."

Finally, the 12th-ranked Higgins did pull an upset as he bested fifth-ranked Garrett Wells, 8-3. His night featured an early takedown and a late reversal.

"John had a tough one, but it was nice to see Nick and Billly go out on the right foot. They end their careers in this gym with a win, in front of a home crowd and beat higher ranked opponents. That's big time," said Jensen.

#1 Central Oklahoma 20, #7 Nebraska Kearney 13

125 #6 Zach Ourada over Garrett Steidley (Central Oklahoma) (Dec 5-1)

133 Drew Arnold over Peter Rolle (Central Oklahoma) (MD 14-4)

141 #7 Nick James over #4 Dylan Lucas (Central Oklahoma) (Dec 5-2)

149 #10 Dylan Brown (Central Oklahoma) over John Burger (Dec 3-0)

157 #3 Gabe Johnson (Central Oklahoma) over Beau Hostler (TF 19-3; 7:00)

165 #9 Hunter Jump (Central Oklahoma) over Kaden Hart (Dec 5-4)

174 #7 Anthony Des Vigne (Central Oklahoma) over #4 Trent Munoz (Dec 10-3)
184 #12 Billy Higgins over #5 Garrett Wells (Central Oklahoma) (Dec 8-3)

197 #1 Dalton Abney (Central Oklahoma) over #8 Jackson Kinsella (Dec 4-0)

285 #1 Shawn Streck (Central Oklahoma) over #5 Crew Howard (Dec 4-2)